Working from home has taken a toll on your body.

After all, the pandemic has forced millions of people to set up a remote office on a kitchen island or coffee table, and its wreaking havoc on our backs, necks, forearms and eyes, say the experts.

“After the honeymoon phase wore off – the ‘yay, I get to work from home’ realization — work and social hours on digital platforms expanded, and people started moving less,” explains Arlette Loeser director of ergonomics and injury prevention, at Mount Sinai Selikoff Centers for Occupational Health.

“What’s more, dining room chairs became the dreaded hard surface, and the unstructured surfaces of sofas and beds fostered poor posture, which led to aches just about everywhere,” continues the New York-based Loeser, who currently hosts a webinar on ergonomic essentials and stress management for remote workers.

Perhaps it’s no coincidence, One Call, a leading workers’ compensation services company, compared claim data from 2019 to 2020 and found a 24.6% increase in lower back pain  along with a rise in forearm, wrist, or hand pain.

To reduce wear and tear on your body while working from home, take heed to these ergonomic tips:

Have a seat (or stand)

It won’t cost you much to invest in a decent office chair with lower back support. And your mom was right – posture is important, too – so stop yourself from leaning in towards the monitor. Instead, sit all the way back.

If you can, choose a chair with wheels so you could better position yourself for added comfort. Learn about the adjustment features of your chair, if it offers any. 

Can't afford a fancy office chair? A favorite lumbar-support hack of ergonomics expert Arlette Loeser is fitting and tying a roll of paper towels on the back of your chair to provide low back support across or spine. You can adjust the amount of support by tearing off sheets until you get it right.

Loeser has some suggestions for those who can’t afford a proper office chair: “I suggest finding items in your home to improve comfort — anything from pillows and boxes as footrests to rolls of paper towels and scarves.” Her favorite hack? “Fitting and tying a roll of paper towels on the back of your chair to provide low back support across or spine support going up the back from the beltline, easily fitted to each person by adjusting the number of towels on the roll,” adds Loeser.

Resist the urge to work while lounging on your sofa or bed, unless you want neck problems.

Both your feet should be flat on the floor. And if you’re vertically-challenged (like yours truly) and your feet don’t reach the floor when seated, use a small step-stool or file box to rest your your feet on under the desk. Your keyboard and mouse should be at (or slightly below) elbow level, so adjust your chair’s height accordingly.

Those who work from home should resist working on a laptop while reclined on a sofa or in bed as those positions bring the risk of neck problems.

An increasingly popular option is a standing desk, which has you standing rather than sitting to promote more muscular use and better blood flow. Many of these desks are height-adjustable, too, which let you manually (or electronically) change orientation from standing to sitting, and back again, on demand. There are also balance ball chairs, which some workers swear by.

‘Monitor’ your health

Look for a monitor with a larger screen (say, 24 inches and bigger), so you don’t have to squint to see small font (and increase the font size).

When seated in your chair, be sure to swivel your chair so you’re facing the monitor straight-on – and thus not putting unnecessary strain on your neck. Your monitor should be at eye level and should tilt left and right and swivel up and down to help you find the most comfortable angle.

You can also find wall mounts, including retractable and adjustable monitor arms, to help dial in the most comfortable setup for you.

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